Rock Climbing – First Flatironette in Winter

The Flatirons In Winter

At 7:30am, Jen swung by and I hopped in her white VW (Golf?). Like Speedracer, she maneuvered her little German car expertly on the highway. In 40 minutes we were at Chautauqua parking lot staring at the Flatirons. What was the climbing going to be like? Would we be successful?

Originally, the forecast was supposed to be a high of 65 dF…but in the last 48 hours it had dropped to 55 dF. No drama, I was relatively certain (Dennis and I had scoped it out on Saturday) the rock would be mostly free of snow.

I was a little fatigued from my hike with Dennis the day prior and the trail was very icy, so we took our time. We arrived at the base of the First Flatironette at around 9:30am. As we got the gear ready, the sun warmed the rock.

It felt cool to the touch and not frozen. The start was a bit treacherous as all the cracks were oozing water. There were big huge chunks of snow plastered to bits of the rock, but these were avoidable. In some cases, I pulled these large chunks off the rock, and threw them away from Jen. The last thing I wanted was one of these landing on her!

Jen Says Climbing!
Jen belaying me on pitch 1 of First Flatironette

Jen Motoring Up First Flatironette
Jen motoring up pitch 1.

Jen Finishing Pitch 1
Jen approaching the belay for pitch 2.

Jen Leading Pitch 2
Jen Leading Pitch 2.

Jen Exiting the Crack
Jen higher up on Pitch 2.

Jen Clipping a Bomber Nut
Jen placing a bomber nut. About to pass gash number one. There is one more gash to the right that you pass, and then it’s straight up to the end of the climb.

Climbergirl on First Flatironette
Me at the belay for Pitch 2. It’s on a ledge by a tree. The anchor took a BD 0.5 cam and a slung horn. I backed up my anchor with a BD #4 cam, but for pitch 2, Jen took this and used it up in the flake.

Jen Scrambling With Eyes Closed
Jen on a fun scramble, back to the packs. The way I normally went was covered with slick ice and snow, so we went this way.

What a Great Winter Day of Climbing!
Me scrambling!

It took us a couple hours to do the climb. Normally, it would have been a lot faster, but with little rivulets of water streaming down the rock, we were much more cautious. Everywhere one would normally grab was wet or covered with a bit of snow. I never felt unsafe, but the climbing was more deliberate and focused as a result of the winter conditions.

Once we made the summit, it took another hour to get back to the packs and put stuff away for the hike down. We made it back to the car around 3pm and then went to Reuben’s in Boulder, for burgers. Fun day!

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